Man seeks to avoid criminal record in sunken pickup truck case

     Marine crews search the frozen Toms River on March 1, 2015 after a submerged pickup truck was discovered. (Image courtesy of Riverside Signal)

    Marine crews search the frozen Toms River on March 1, 2015 after a submerged pickup truck was discovered. (Image courtesy of Riverside Signal)

    A Toms River man whose dog was inside a pickup truck that plunged through the ice on a frozen river will apply for entry into a pretrial intervention program that would allow him to avoid jail time and a criminal record. 

    A lawyer for Andrew Mayer informed an Ocean County judge this week about his client’s intentions. The program allows defendants, generally first-time offenders, to avoid a criminal record if successfully completed. Otherwise, the case returns to the criminal court for prosecution.

    The 28-year-old man faces charges of criminal mischief and animal cruelty for the March 1, 2015 incident, according to an indictment issued last June. 

    The indictment alleges that Mayer “purposely, knowingly or recklessly failed to provide necessary care for and protection of his dog, Rolo, from harm by driving his pickup truck onto the frozen Toms River.”

    Mayer’s dog died after the truck cracked through the ice, while the man safely reached the shoreline, the indictment states. 

    A witness told police that the truck was driven to the center of the river and began spinning in circles.

    According to the indictment, Mayer then failed to notify authorities of the incident, resulting in a substantial search and rescue operation involving the United States Coast Guard Aviation Unit, the New Jersey State Police Aviation and Marine units, local marine units, and multiple local police departments, fire companies, and first aid squads from Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach and Island Heights.

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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